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State health officials recommend flu and COVID boosters ahead of winter

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State health officials are recommending that Wyoming residents update their COVID-19 protection with a new COVID booster. They're also recommending that residents get their annual flu vaccine to protect against this year's strain.

As the virus behind COVID continues to mutate, it's important to stay on top of one's vaccinations. New formulations provide protection against new strains, and that's why the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is recommending that most people — young and old — get a booster at their local provider or pharmacy.

"We've seen the virus that causes COVID-19 continue to change and we've learned protection from COVID-19 vaccines is valuable, but does decline over time," said Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, in a news release. "The newly available COVID-19 vaccine versions have been updated. Even if you've previously been vaccinated or ill with COVID-19 they can boost your protection from the more recent versions of the virus."

It's impossible to know what COVID will do this winter. But Harrist said the disease so far appears seasonal.

"We know that's true for other respiratory viruses as well, such as flu, and so it's safe to expect that we could see more spread of COVID-19 in the upcoming months," she said.

Harrist said it's also time to get your annual flu vaccine. Fortunately, individuals can get both at the same time, on the same visit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Wyoming Department of Health agree that everyone six months or older should be getting both — as long as it's been at least two months since your last COVID vaccine, or three months since your last COVID symptoms.

There's a third disease that could cause problems in Wyoming this winter — respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV. The RSV vaccine is recommended for people 60 and older, and for expecting or new parents.

"The virus is not new, but the protection we have against it is," Harrist said. "For people who aren't familiar with RSV, it's a virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms in most people. But for older adults and infants and young children, it can be a very serious illness resulting in hospitalization."

Most people with health insurance should be able to get at least the COVID and flu vaccines for free, because vaccines are usually covered.

People without health insurance should look for a provider that's taking part in the Bridge Access Program — a federal initiative that provides updated COVID vaccines for the uninsured.

Wyoming residents can find out where to get a vaccine on the state department of health's website.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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